I listened to the speech President Obama delivered at the Tucson Memorial for the fallen and wounded. And while there remains a different kind of wound in all our hearts, I was captured by his appeal for the ‘better angels of our nature’. The horror that felled people at the Safeway store in Tuscan while Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was expressing her version of democracy is indeed, horrific. Yet, out of the ash springs the flower of hope. Why else would we carry on? Why else would Gabby continue to beat her heart? Why else would the fallen have given their lives in the unexpected way they did?
It is easy to level blame. In a democratic nation it is vital to hold an individual (insane or not) accountable for the crime committed, yet the energy spent in acrimonious venom towards others is better spent examining our own hearts. And while language does indeed matter, the powerful presence of a 9 year old child operating from the belief in the collective’s goodness trumps all vitriol. The spirit of her goodness lives even if her body does not.
Words do matter. Language does matter; why else would we bother with it. We are all held accountable for what we say, as well as what we fail to say. In his speech, President Obama conveyed a ‘rising’, to turn away from tearing each other down and instead, to lift our own moral compass. For me that involves standing for the Truth of the potency and intention of words. It also means taking responsibility for one’s own effort and self-discipline.
It seems so obvious. The language of violence – literal or metaphoric – is just that: violent. We all do it in one fashion or another however subtle or strong. I have a background in marketing, for example. We ‘pull the trigger’ on an ad campaign. Should there not be a less adolescent and more mature way to communicate an inception for an activity such as this? Targeting and ‘conquest’ is threaded through our culture. While some folks use it for spurious ego-serving intentions, others use it out of the collective innocence we assume reflects no harm.
Civility in our national dialogue and our personal lives is something the ‘better angels of our nature’ are called upon to exercise at this time. To be mindful and require a higher level of consciousness and therefore exercise personal accountability for our own behavior, while calling out others in a discerning yet respectful way when language becomes incendiary, is critical. We owe it to ourselves, Rep Gabrielle Giffords, to the honesty and hopefulness of a nine year old child, and to all the wounded and fallen who gave something of themselves for which we have not even been asked. It is the least we can do on their behalf and our own.
Submitted by Anonymous
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